Fit for a Playboy: Meet the Bertone-Jaguar Pirana

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Once the pride of British industry and high technology, the Bertone-Jaguar Pirana is now a priceless classic.

It’s hard to imagine a road-going Jaguar from the 1960s that’s more beautiful than the E-Type. This Bertone-styled Jaguar, with an English heart and an Italian body, certainly comes close.

According to Hemmings, the car you see here was born from a newspaper article in The Daily Telegraph. They dreamed up the ultimate grand touring machine, for the Swinging Sixties London playboy who wanted to arrive in style – and drive himself there.

Both Jaguar and Bertone got on board for the project. Jaguar provided an E-Type 2+2 frame and a 4.2 liter straight six engine. Dunlop provided competition wheels, while Smiths provided a stereo and air conditioning system. The interior was trimmed by Connolly, and the glass, naturally, came from Triplex.


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Short of the body itself, this car was designed to use as many British components as possible. The point of The Daily Telegraph article was to highlight the capabilities of British industry, buy using off-the-shelf components to build the most impressive car of all time. Of course, those rules didn’t apply to the bodywork itself.

In just five months, Nuccio Bertone and Marcello Gandini completed the car, dubbed the Pirana. They wanted to create a shape that implied “controlled speed” – perfect for the London playboy lifestyle.

When the Bertone-Jaguar Pirana debuted at the Earl’s Court Motor Show in 1967, it was a superstar. In addition, the car was shown around the world in New York, Montreal and Turin. It even inspired the Lamborghini Espada. It’s an appropriate fate for a car designed for the jet-setting lifestyle.

Less appropriate, though, was its fate after being sold into private hands in 1968. The car remained hidden from public view for decades, and in that time, many modifications were made. It was sold in 2011 to a buyer that was determined to return it to stock.

Careful attention was paid not only to the finish details, but to the technology that made the car so special. Now returned to stock – and its rightful place in public view – this car will be offered at RM Sotheby’s Monterey 2019 sale, which will run from August 15th through August 17th.

Photos: RM Sotheby’s

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Longtime motorcyclist and automotive journalist Cam Vanderhorst is a regular contributor to Harley-Davidson Forums, Ford Truck Enthusiasts, Corvette Forum and MB World, among others.

When he's not busy working on his Harley-Davidson bike, the vastly experienced writer has covered an array of features, reviews, how-tos, op-eds and news stories for Internet Brands' Auto Group and is also a co-founder and co-host of the popular podcast Cammed & Tubbed.

Check him out on Instagram at: Camvanderhorst.

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